Pierpaolo Piccioli makes people get emotional (and Celine Dion shed tears of joy) over his couture. Does his ready-to-wear for Valentino spark the same reactions? Pretty much yes. His autumn-winter 2019 collection was an ode to love. A theme that might be so easily clichéd in fashion got beautifully poetic on Piccioli’s runway. “I feel that people are looking for emotion and dreams—but not distant dreams,” he said today before the show. “I want to create a community for Valentino. I mean something different from ‘lifestyle,’ which is about owing objects. It’s about people who share values.” Valentino’s community has many faces, and this season Pierpaolo made them even more vocal. First, the choice of models who walk the Valentino runway as of late utterly cement the normalisation of inclusive casting. You’ve got Adut Akech open the show in a voluminous coat, and Maria Carla Boscono wear a gorgeous black gown. Then, we’ve got artistic individuals that leave their mark on Piccioli’s fashion. Jun Takahashi of Undercover started collaborating with Valentino’s menswear last season, and his contribution goes on here as well. This time the designers morphed together a print of a 19th-century neoclassical sculpture of kissing lovers with an image of roses. It appeared on pretty much everything, and wasn’t necessarily a subtle detail. And then there are the poets. Poetry in fashion always seemed to be a good idea just in case of Ann Demeulemeester and her long-time friend, Patti Smith. In case of Valentino, the concept wasn’t overly intellectual or profound, but digestible for the eye. Picciolli commissioned the Scottish poet and artist Robert Montgomery and the three young writers – Greta Bellamacina, Mustafa The Poet and Yrsa Daley-Ward – to contribute to a slim volume, Valentino on Love, which was left on seats for the audience. An illuminated billboard with lines by Montgomery stood at the end of the runway, reading, “The people you love become ghosts inside of you and like this you keep them alive.” The words carried on to live in Piccioli’s designs and the lines were printed (or embroidered) inside coats, tulle dresses, inside of bags and boots. In terms of fashion, this was a line-up of incredible matchings. An orange jacket with feathers was worn over a hoodie – refined, yet fresh. There were as many couture-ish silhouettes (like the yellow cape-coat or the finale dresses) as sublime daywear (think soft tailoring, flared mid-lenght skirts and classical little black dresses). Love’s in the air, in every single aspect.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
Moncler continues its successful ‘Genius’ concept and keeps on inviting designers to reinterpret the famous duvet. Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli presented his second line-up for the brand and it’s as good as the first one. The statuesque, floor-sweeping puffer dresses are here again, but this time they’re covered in prints made in collaboration with model Liya Kebede, and her sustainable and socially responsible label Lemlem. Graphic vibrancy of Lemlem’s contribution did wonders to the exaggerated volumes of Piccioli’s creations. Now, they look even more bold, especially when kept in colour (just see all these yellows, oranges and pistachios…). But coming back to Kebede’s Lemlem, it’s produced by artisan seamstresses in her native Ethiopia, who apply traditional patterns to everyday, approachable clothes. Re-creating the Lemlem fabrics in nylon not only gave additional work opportunities, but as well raised awareness of the brand’s actions. With grace and, very much in Piccioli’s manner, beauty.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
Pierpaolo Piccioli’s couture for Valentino is the only couture that matters. No crazy venues that attempt to distract you from noticing how plain the collection is (I see you, Dior and Chanel). Just pure, joyous, glorious haute couture that enchants and truly impresses. And makes Celine Dion cry. This spring-summer 2019 collection, reserved for the richest and most extravagant women on our planet, was a triumph of audacious colour, beauty and glamour. But also, it was a major model casting breakthrough, with completely diverse models that made the garments even more exquisite. The designer embraced black beauty, having Adut Akech open the show (in a brilliant, pink ensemble) and Naomi Campbell close (in a gown made out of translucent organza in the shade of Chocolate Dahlia). There was Liya Kebede, there was Lineisy Montero, there was Ugbad Abdi. Runway icons, veterans, and newcomers. The entire scene looked like a fairy-tale… that really took place. This couture collection again proved that colour is crucial for Pierpaolo, especially in terms of couture. “You don’t invent beauty, but you can invent new harmonies for colour”, the maestro said backstage. Just read the following: a coral coat worn with a chocolate crepe blouse and emerald gabardine pants. Lilac serape topped a pair of orange pants. Turquoise lace and tangerine silk faille. Green sequins. Pale mauve. Matisse blue. All that worked with voluminous ball gowns that took hundreds of hours to create at Valentino atelier in Rome. Unquestionably, Piccioli is a couturier of Garavani’s heights. And it’s a blessing for today’s fashion to experience his genius.
All collages by Edward Kanarecki.
While some designers (well, I specifically think about the two that landed in every industry news headline last week) fail to understand and respect other cultures than theirs, Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli doesn’t have that problem. His pre-fall 2018 collection for both, women and men, was presented in Tokyo a few days ago and it was far, far away from getting trapped in stereotypical thinking. The first dozen of looks was a punch of red: parkas, furs, florals, duvet jackets, sheer frocks, shirts, loosely fitted pants, everything in red. The next 30 or 40 looks were mostly black or white, with a few pastel exceptions. The closing looks – made for the red carpet – were all about red, again. But we’re speaking of Valentino red, which is a deep and absorbing shade. Lots and lots of tulle and silk was used for each of these evening gowns. And they did look exquisite, couture-level. Shortly, it seemed to be a regular Valentino collection that could be equally presented in Paris, New York or Rome. That was Piccioli’s goal: to show that today’s Valentino is an international brand, suited for women and men from very different destinations. Still, there were some Japan-related hints behind the collection. They were subtle and well-balanced. Piccioli is drawn to the Japanese art of kintsugi, of repairing the cracks of broken porcelain with a molten gold effect that adds new layers of beauty, “so the most broken pieces become the most precious—the opposite to Western culture. Time adds something to beauty.” Did he mean the ever-changing codes of Valentino? Or maybe that was a light metaphor for the art of autumn layering the designer mastered so well this season? Pierpaolo was also moved by this one aspect of Japanese culture that is extremely alive especially today – specifically “the symbolic act of dressing up. People in the street dress like a ceremony, like a ritual”. Other than Moncler, the designer did two more special collaborations this season – both with Japanese visionaries of their own crafts. Renaissance art appeared in the purses produced in collaboration with Undercover’s Jun Takahashi, which will only be sold in Valentino’s Tokyo flagship store. The playfully surreal self-portraiture of the 21-year-old artist Izumi Miyazaki appeared on loose dresses and parkas – it certainly brought more vigour to the line-up. It’s not the first time when I say this: Valentino blooms with Pierpaolo in charge of it.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.